BJP’s poll manifesto for upcoming Maharashtra Assembly Elections has kicked up a massive political storm. The 44-page manifesto, which has been termed as a ‘sankalp patra’ by the BJP, has promised India’s highest civilian honour - Bharat Ratna – for Veer Savarkar. Calling Savarkar a patriot, BJP’s poll promise has already sparked furore in political circles. Senior BJP leader and former Union Minister Subramanian Swamy’s ‘Twitter twist’ added to the controversy. Shortly after the release of the manifesto, Swamy took to micro-blogging site and tweeted a line that may shock many. ‘Good that Govt has decided to award Veer Savarkar the Bharat Ratna,’ Swamy said on Twitter.
Good that Govt has decided to award Veer Savarkar the Bharat Ratna— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) October 15, 2019
In no time, the tweet went viral. At the time of publishing this story, the tweet had garnered 3.4 RTs and 14.8K Likes. Explaining his tweet, Swamy said that, ‘BJP Maharashtra and Shiv Sena have already tied the Centre’s hand and foot in their Manifestos. Can any real Hindu say no?’
According to the BJP manifesto, the party will demand Bharat Ratna for Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, popularly known as Veer Savarkar, In its election manifesto, released by BJP working president J P Nadda, the state unit also sought the honour for social reformers Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule, a party leader said. The manifesto speaks of "pursuing the matter with the Central government," the leader said. Many BJP leaders look up to Savarkar for inspiration although he was a member of the Hindu Mahasabha and not the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological parent of the BJP.
On July 1911, Savarkar was sentenced to two life sentences i.e. 50 years in the cellular jail of Andamans, also known as Kala Pani. After mercy petitions and pressure from Indian National Congress he was shifted to Yerwada Jail in 1923 and was released in 1924 under strict conditions of not participating in politics for 5 years and barring to leave Ratnagiri district. While the Congress vociferously slammed the BJP’s manifesto, it should be noted that in 1970, Indira Gandhi’s government issued a postal stamp in honour of Veer Savarkar. Andaman and Nicobar Island’s Port Blair airport has been named as ‘Veer Savarkar International Airport’.